Washington, Apr 22 : Go for veggies if you want to do your bit to prevent greenhouse gas emissions, researchers have suggested, claiming that it is the dietary choice, not food miles, which most determines a household's food-related climate impacts.
With increasing focus on 'food miles'-the distance that food travels from farm, where it is produced to the consumer's plate- Carnegie Mellon researchers Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews ask people to follow the age-old saying "We are what we eat."
"Our analysis shows that despite all the attention given to food miles, the distance that food travels is only around 11 percent of the average American household's food-related greenhouse gas emissions,'' said Weber.
They have said that fruit, vegetables, meat and milk produced closer to home chalk up lesser petroleum-based transport miles than foods that are trucked cross-country to your table.
However, despite the large distances involved in travelling of foods, the large non-energy based greenhouse gas emissions linked with producing food make food production matter much more than distance travelled.
The researchers have recommended that going for less red meat and/or dairy products might be a more effective way for concerned citizens to lower their food-related climate impacts.
In fact, they have also calculated that shifting to an entirely local diet would reduce the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions as driving 1,000 miles, while changing only one day per week's meat and dairy-based calories to chicken, fish, or vegetables would have about the same impact.
"Where you get your food from is a relevant factor in family food decisions, but what you are eating - and the processes needed to make it - is much more important from a climate change perspective,'' said Matthews.
The study is published in an upcoming article in the prestigious Environmental Science and Technology journal.